The first prize of the 32nd Annual Irving M. Klein International String Competition, carrying a purse of $13,000, has been awarded to cellist Jeremy Tai. The Competition Finals were held the evening of Sunday, June 4 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and included three competitors advancing from the Semifinals the previous day, an original group of nine. Tai’s winning program for the final round included Lisa Bielawa’s Insomnia Etude #3, the first movement of Grieg’s Cello Sonata, and the second movement of Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante. The second prize went to violist Zhanbo Zheng and third prize went to violinist Kyumin Park.
“At the 32nd Irving M. Klein International String Competition on Sunday, all three performers in the Final Round were among the finest ever at this Competition, presenting the jury with its most difficult decision in many years,” said Mitchell Sardou Klein, Artistic Director of the California Music Center. “Those attending the Competition all weekend heard brilliant performances of the widest range of works ever represented at the Competition. The jury expressed deep admiration for the superb performances of all nine Semifinalists.”
“Once again, the Klein International Competition has lived up to its enviable reputation of presenting some of the world's most outstanding young string performers in a wonderfully warm climate of support and enthusiasm,” said William van der Sloot, a juror for the Competition. “The audience at SFCM was treated to one stunning performance after another, each bringing the cheering audience members to their feet. It was truly a memorable evening for all involved. Many thanks to the outstanding team of individuals who present this classy event for gifted young artists and for the San Francisco community.”
The full list of this year’s selected competitors includes Karisa Chiu (violin, 17), Peter Eom (cello, 21), Sarah Hall (violin, 22), Daniel Kaler (cello, 19), Kyumin Park (violin, 20), James Poe (violin, 17), Lynn Sue-A-Quan (viola, 17), Jeremy Tai (cello, 18), and Zhanbo Zheng (viola, 20). The young musicians were selected from a pool of 99 entrants from 13 countries, ranging in age from 15 to 23.
The jury for this year’s Competition included Lisa Bielawa (the 2017 Klein Competition Composer), Michael Gelfand, David Kim, Ian Swensen, Barbara Day Turner, William van der Sloot, and Sandy Wilson.
Competitors in the Competition were required to perform at least one movement of an unaccompanied Bach work, a concerto, a commissioned work by Lisa Bielawa, and, for the three musicians selected to advance to the final round, a movement from a sonata with piano.
Previous winners of the Klein Competition include Jennifer Koh, Frank Huang, Robert deMaine, Tessa Lark, and David Requiro. Last year, the Competition awarded 19-year-old William Langlie-Miletich first prize, the first bassist to ever receive the top award.
For more information, visit kleincompetition.org.
About Jeremy Tai
Cellist Jeremy Tai, 18, has appeared as a soloist with the Utah Symphony, Symphony Parnassus in San Francisco, the Palo Alto Philharmonic Orchestra, the University of California at Davis Symphony Orchestra, and the California Youth Symphony Orchestra. Tai made his solo debut at the Junior Bach Festival in Berkeley, California at age 10 and his national debut at the MTNA National Convention in New York City at age 14. In 2016, he gave his first professional recital at Noontime Concerts San Francisco and was chosen as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in Arts candidate. He has been featured on the NPR program From the Top as a soloist and as a founding member of the awarding-winning Konpeito Cello Quartet.
Tai has won the top prize at the Music Teachers National Association National Strings Competition, Mondavi Center National Young Artists Competition, American Fine Arts Festival International Concerto Competition, and Music Teachers’ Association of California VOCE State Competition. He was chosen as a YoungArts National Finalist, a Semifinalist at the Irving M. Klein International String Competition (2014), and a Semifinalist at the Stulberg International String Competition (2014 and 2017).
Raised in Cupertino, California, Tai is an alumnus of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Pre-College program, where he studied with Jonathan Koh. He is now a scholarship recipient from the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, studying with Hans Jørgen Jensen.
First Prize ($13,000, including performances with the Peninsula and Santa Cruz Symphonies, the Gualala Arts Chamber Music Series, Music in the Vineyards, and Noontime Concerts) The prize goes to Jeremy Tai (cello, 18).
Second Prize ($5,500, including a performance with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra) is given by Ruth Short in honor of Elaine H. Klein, wife of Irving M. Klein, and for the past 31 years, an active board member and supporter of the Klein Competition and the California Music Center. The prize goes to Zhanbo Zheng (viola, 20).
Third Prize ($2,500) is given by David and Judy Anderson, in memory of Judy’s father, Milton Preves, who was principal violist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1939 to 1986 and was instrumental in developing the basis for the current judging procedures for the Klein Competition. The prize goes to Kyumin Park (violin, 20).
Fourth Prizes ($1,500 each) given in memory of Harry Adams and Jerry Lee Klein. The prizes go to Peter Eom (cello, 21) and Karisa Chiu (violin, 17).
The prize for the Best Performance of the Commissioned Work ($500) is named in memory of Allen R. Weiss and Susan E. Weiss, who were often seen ushering together at the Competition, typically wearing a dress and bowtie made from the same fabric. They were tireless volunteers for musical and theatrical organizations, and they spent their lives encouraging children (especially their own) to express themselves through the arts. This year’s prize is given by Richard Festinger. The prize goes to Jeremy Tai (cello, 18).
The Pablo Casals Prize ($500) is for the best performance of the solo Bach work, in honor of the musical tradition of the great master. The prize goes to Zhanbo Zheng (viola, 20).
Each Semifinalist not awarded a named prize receives $1,000.